Morning Makeover: What SHOULD You Be Doing?

Welcome! This is  Day 4 of our 7 Day Morning Makeover! You can find Day 1 here ,Day 2 here, and Day 3 here. Want to make sure you don’t miss a thing? Sign up for the series here.

Yesterday we talked about finding the time in your busy morning to do the things that are important to you. Today I want you to think about what you should and what you shouldn’t be doing in those first few hours of the day.

That’s an important idea to ponder.

So often we get stuck in a rut or a routine and do things because that’s what we’ve always done. We do it without really thinking about whether it’s the best use of our time.

It’s Not About Cramming More Things Into Less Time

Making over your morning isn’t about figuring out how to cram more tasks into fewer hours. When you read books and articles on productivity and time management, that’s often the main message and gist of it. While it can help in the short-term, it isn’t a good long-term strategy for meaningful change. Very soon you’ll hit the limit of how much faster and how much more efficient you can get.

Shift your thinking and don’t try to add to what you do in the morning. If you want 15 minutes for Bible study, or exercise, don’t just think about getting up 15 minutes earlier, or shaving 15 minutes off your morning routine by showering faster, getting dressed in record time, and rushing through breakfast.

In other words, don’t add to your already long list of things that need to get done. You’ll only feel more rushed and stressed if you do.

It’s About Making Smart Choices About Using Your Time

Instead, what you should be thinking about is the best use of your time in the morning.

Compare your perfect morning with your current morning routine. What aren’t you doing on your ideal morning? If you can start by cutting things out, finding time to do what’s important to you becomes much easier.

There are two great ways to find things you can stop doing:

  • The first is to look for busy work. This is something you do out of habit that doesn’t necessarily need to be done every day. Maybe it’s checking your email first thing in the morning or playing around on Facebook for half an hour while you drink your coffee. If that’s how you choose to spend your time, that’s perfectly fine, but if you’re doing it out of habit it may be time to reconsider it.
  • The second way to quickly earn back time is to see if you’re doing things or others that they can do themselves. Kids are the perfect example. We start fixing their breakfast, making their lunch, cleaning up after them, picking out their clothes, and making sure their backpack is packed and ready to do. When they are very small, we have to do these things, but all too often we continue to do them long after they’re capable of doing things on their own.  (Here is a quick plug for my Printable Bedtime checklist for kids!) The same goes for things we do for our spouse. Maybe there was a time when you had less to do in the morning and it made sense to take on the majority of morning chores. I know this was the case for us when I was a stay at home mom, but now that I work full-time outside the home, more of a teamwork approach makes sense. Did things change and if so, is it time to lighten your load and get help from your partner? A few small changes may be all it takes to make the time in your busy morning for what’s important to you.

Morning Challenge Task #4: What is some morning “busy work” that you can cut? What are some tasks that you can delegate? Make a list!  Once you complete these tasks, head over to the Facebook page to share your progress with the group!

Morning Makeover: Find Time in Your Busy Morning

Welcome! This is the Day 3 of our 7 Day Morning Makeover! You can find Day 1 here and Day 2 here. Want to make sure you don’t miss a thing? Sign up for the series here.

Mornings are busy and they can be quite chaotic. In our house we have two working parents, two college kids, a high schooler, a middle schooler and twin second graders. Our mornings are LOUD!  If you have a young family and plenty of people to get ready and out the door, you know this first hand. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way, no matter how busy you think you are the first thing in the day.

The other day I shared with you how the first few hours in the morning set the tone for the entire rest of the day. Do you want that to be rushed, frantic, and feeling like you’re constantly running and trying to catch up? Or do you want it to be calm, collected, productive, and with a feeling that you’re in control? It is all up to you and it’s all about embracing two simple concepts:

Get Up Early Enough

It’s tempting to hit the snooze button and catch a few more minutes of sleep, isn’t it? It’s even hard to set the alarm early enough that you have plenty of time for everything you want and need to get done.

I get it. If you’re not a morning person, moving up the alarm by 30 minutes to carve out a little extra time can be tough. Trust me though, after the first few mornings it’s not nearly as hard as you think and something you’ll quickly get used to.

Getting up early enough and avoiding the snooze button at all costs is the key to an unrushed morning. Here’s the problem with cutting time too short, or worse hitting the snooze button a few times: it gets you behind from the very start. You have to rush to make it out the door in time and any little problem or speed bump along the way turns into a huge problem. Not being able to find the car keys is suddenly a major crisis because it could cause you to be late for work and the kids to be tardy at school.

 If you start it chasing down time and things, that’s likely how you’ll spend the rest of your time.

Getting up early enough, however, puts you ahead of the game. You are in control. You can take care of everything that needs to be done in a calm way and still have time for the important things you want to work on.

In short, getting up early enough sets you up for an amazing, productive day.

Restructure Your Routine

Before we wrap this up, let’s spend a little time thinking about your current morning routine and where you’re spending time.

Write down what your current morning routine looks like.

Look for things you can change and tweak to find more time for the things you really want to do.

For example, if you want an extra 20 minutes in the morning for devotions, look at what you could take care ahead of time, cut, or delegate to make that time. If you spend a lot of time getting breakfast for everyone, get in the habit of setting the breakfast table the night before.  You can pick up some of my breakfast tips here–it really IS the most important meal of the day!  Here are some other helpful tips:

  • Set the coffee maker up at night, so all you have to do in the morning is push a button.
  • Teach the kids to make their own breakfast and take the dirty dishes to the sink, rinse them, and put them in the dishwasher.
  • Make sure clothes are set out the night before (including yours), and that book bags, purses, briefcases, and car keys have a designated spot and that they’re where they need to be before you turn in for the night.

Small changes like this to your morning routine can make a big difference. I challenge you to come up with a few small tweaks that will save you at least 30 minutes in the morning.

I am a firm believer that good mornings actually start at night! You can download a FREE printable bedtime checklist for kids here! 

Morning Challenge Task #3:  Brainstorm 3 different ways you can carve out an extra 30 minutes each morning. Brainstorm 3 things you can delegate to family members.  Determine your new wake up time. Once you complete these tasks, head over to the Facebook page to share your progress with the group!

Morning Makeover: Define your Perfect Morning

Welcome to Day 2 of our 7 day Morning Makeover! If you are just joining us, make sure to check out Day 1 here. If you want to make sure to get all the great Morning Makeover content, make sure to sign up here.

Here is my question for you this morning. What’s most important to you?  What is the one thing you really want to do that would make a big difference, but you just can’t seem to find the time for?

In short, what good habit do you want to cultivate that would make a real impact on your life? Think about this for a moment. It could be in any area of your life from exercise and healthy eating to self-improvement or getting ahead in business or at your job. It could be working on your relationship with your kids, finding time for creative pursuits, or getting in the habit of reading every morning. Obviously, I can’t have donuts every day for breakfast, but in an ideal world, I sure would!

Once you’ve figured out what you want to work on, what you want to improve, and what’s important to you, we’ll think about how you can make it part of your morning routine.

Sit back and imagine your perfect morning. It isn’t stressed or rushed. Most importantly, it’s a day when you have time for everything on your list. Maybe it means having time for a long shower. Maybe it means time for quiet devotions. Maybe it’s going for a run before breakfast. Maybe it’s having a few minutes to connect with your spouse over coffee or maybe it’s carving out an hour first thing in the morning to work on your side-business.

That’s a lot of “maybes” but the key is to start with what’s most important to you and think about how you could fit it into your morning routine. Remember, you’re just dreaming and imagining at this point. We’ll work on figuring out where to find the time to fit it in and how to make it all work out later on. For now I simply want you to paint a vivid picture of what your new morning could look like.

I want you to become very clear on what you want that perfect morning to look like. Imagine it in as much detail as you possibly can. Write it down in a journal or on a piece of paper that you can refer back to as needed. In short, define your perfect morning.

Why is this so important? Because You can’t start to make any meaningful changes until you know what your goals are. 

 You need to know your destination before you can start to pick a route and figure out how you’ll get there. That’s what today’s task is all about. It’s figuring out where you want to get to. Don’t stop until you have it figured out and firmly pictured in your mind.

Morning Challenge Task #2: Write down what your ideal morning will look like. If you use a planner or bullet journal, give your ideal morning some space in your book.  Artistic? Draw a picture. Or, search for images on Pinterest that show what your ideal morning will look like. Start a Pinterest board for your Morning Makeover. Then, hop on over to the Facebook page and let the rest of us know what your ideal morning looks like!

 

This Morning Makeover Task Can Change Your Life

I love mornings. Each new day brings new opportunities and there is a chance to start fresh and do better. How you start your day, or more specifically, how you spend those first few morning hours has a big impact on the rest of your day. Think of it as setting the tone for the entire day. That’s why a Morning Makeover is so important. It’s about  so much more than those first few hours.

I did not always love mornings. As a matter of fact, those who are close to me have often heard me say, “There is not a single morning person in our house.” And, that is true. I am not a natural morning person, but circumstances have made me one, and I am all the better for it! I’m not going to lie, part of the joy in my morning is that I AM the only morning person in my house! When my third born decided to take up swimming as a winter sport, I was THRUST into morning mom mode. He had DAILY 6 am practices, and he does not drive. Guess who got to be his morning taxi driver? That’s right, it was ME!

The first few weeks were rough and I found myself rolling out of bed, dragging him to practice and then climbing back into bed, only to have my alarm go off an hour later. I was more tired than when I started. But, one day, I decided to just start my day after driving my son to practice. I started a pot of coffee, read my morning devotions, and then settled in for nearly an hour of bliss: crocheting in the quiet in my comfy chair. . . Totally undisturbed. To say that it made my day would be an understatement. It quite literally changed my whole outlook.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this yourself. Let’s use the snooze button as an example. You set an early alarm to make sure you have time for exercise, devotions, or simply some much-needed “me time”. You have every intention of getting up and doing whatever you’re setting out to do when you set the alarm in the first place. Some mornings – hopefully most mornings – you get up when the alarm chimes and go for that walk, read your Bible, or read a book for twenty minutes. Then there are those days when you just can’t make yourself get up. You hit the snooze button multiple times, or turn the alarm off altogether and go back to sleep.

Think about how the rest of those days went. Did you notice a difference in how you felt? How much did you get done in the mornings when you woke with your first alarm? Were you able to do all the things you set out to do? How did those days compare to the ones when you hit the snooze button over and over again?

If I had to take a guess, I’d say that the mornings when you got up as soon as the alarm went off went a lot smoother.  I bet you accomplished what you have planned to do, too. Chances are, that sleeping through the snooze button didn’t just affect your morning, but the entire rest of your day. You set the tone for how your day is going to go first thing in the morning. That’s what the old saying about getting up on the wrong side of the bed is about. Let’s make sure we get up on the right side and start our day off on a positive and productive note.

Over the course of the next seven days, I want to guide you through the process of making over your morning. As we’ve already established, this is an important task and a good thing to work on and pay attention to. Not only will you enjoy your mornings more even if the alarm goes off earlier than you’d like, it will make the entire rest of your day go much smoother.

Morning Challenge Task #1:  Set your alarm for tomorrow morning for the time that you actually plan on getting out of bed. Do not factor in snooze time and then, do not hit the snooze button! Then, when you get up and start your day, pop into the Facebook page  and let us know how it all went!

That Time I Stopped Buying Cold Cereal

Breakfast

This spring I took a huge risk.

I wanted my family to eat differently for breakfast–healthier, and more filling breakfasts (the teens were averaging $10 a day on school lunch items–they were obviously hungry!). But I was sabotaging myself.

I was asking the kids to eat differently–on their own, while I continued to buy the very thing that was keeping them from eating a healthy breakfast–cold cereal.

Now, It is not like I was buying them Sooper Frostie Goofy Puffs or anything. I was purchasing decent, often organic, whole grain cold cereals.

The problem is, a grain, even topped with some nice whole milk, does not a complete breakfast make.

I was offering eggs, and fruit, and even bacon–but the kids kept going back to the cereal. It was safe, it was quick, and, in the case of the little girls, half of it sat in the bottom of their bowls untouched.

So I waited until our cereal stash was used up. In a family of 8, that does NOT take long! Then, the very next Sunday, I bypassed the cereal aisle. I stocked up on eggs, and whole grain bread and sausage and bacon and bright, juicy, strawberries. I bought quarts of Greek Yogurt, and I baked up a batch of granola to top it. I baked some of the kids’ favorite whole grain and flax seed muffins.

Then, I woke up early on Monday morning, brewed my coffee and I sat in the kitchen and waited. One by one, my groggy kids shuffled into the kitchen and opened the pantry door. They dug around, muttered under their breath and dug some more. Then, one by one, they poked back out of the pantry and complained about the lack of cereal.

At this point I offered them a litany of breakfast options. None of them looked convinced, but grudgingly agreed to at least one or two items. By the end of the week I was happily frying up eggs, or making smoothies (making sure there was a good balance of fruit AND protein).

The kids (and my husband and I) were eating better. But this was not the biggest benefit I noticed.

What happened when I ditched the cereal was that breakfast time became an actual family meal time–much like our family dinners always have been. We were sitting around the table, slowing down a bit, actually TALKING to each other.

I know that this time in our kids’ lives are all too fleeting. I know that eventually our household of eight will whittle down to a blessedly quiet household of two.

I knew that I wanted to impress on my family the importance of a good, healthy breakfast (if it is the most important meal of the day, why do we outsource it so much?). What I did not anticipate was how much focusing on breakfast would improve our family life!

So, we still buy cereal sometimes. But now it is a “treat”, and not the norm. And improving breakfast added to my busy workload. What shocked me, though, is that it did not increase our grocery costs. As a matter of fact, the more I focus on real food, food that has been minimally processed, or, as my kids call it–shopping the outside of the store, our food costs have actually gone down.

I found that I actually eat breakfast if we eat as a family. I’ve never been much of a breakfast person (unless coffee counts!) But when I sit and eat with my family, I have far fewer cravings through the day. A good breakfast can carry me through lunch–and our kids’ lunch accounts have demonstrated the same.

Want to ditch the cereal and feed your family better breakfasts? Here is what worked for us:

  • Cold Turkey For the first month or so, I had to just make sure the cereal was gone. If the kids found a box, that was what they wanted to have.
  • Be Present If you are going to cut out cereal, you need to make sure you are actually in the kitchen to offer alternatives.
  • Prepare Options Know going in what your family likes to eat and make sure that you have those choices available. My family enjoys all kinds of eggs, so that was easy. Brainstorm breakfast ideas together.
  • Prep Ahead On Sundays I prep much of our dinner food for the week. I also like to try to take time to bake a batch of muffins or banana bread, or even make up freezer bags full of smoothie ingredients (then you can just dump and go!)
  • Make it Fun! Play some fun music, set out pretty plates, do whatever it takes to make breakfast time a pleasant experience.

I’d love to hear how you make breakfast the best meal of the day. Leave a comment here or pop over to the Facebook page!